Football: Training camp report — Aug. 6.

Cal kicked off the 2011 season with its first practice of training camp tonight at Witter Rugby Field. The first piece of good news is the turf appears to be in pretty good shape. As we all know, it was a mess when it was first installed and the Bears weren’t able to practice there during the spring. All appears to be well now.

Only a couple of no-shows. Tight end Jarrett Sparks is academically ineligible and isn’t likely to return to the team. Incoming freshman DB Jordan Morgan has decided to grayshirt as he recovers from an ankle injury. He will enroll at Cal in January, much like linebacker Cecil Whiteside did after last season.

On the health front, linebacker Nick Forbes was in a red jersey. He is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery (from an injury he sustained in the spring). He should be out another couple weeks. Tight end Spencer Ladner is still out as he recovers from his knee injury in the spring, but he is expected back in about a week.

Offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz suffered a slight hamstring twinge early in practice and was shut down. Wide receiver Kaelin Clay tweaked his knee about midway through practice, but the severity is not know yet. He was to be further examined. That could be some early bad news if it is anything significant because Clay is a leading candidate to become Cal’s No. 3 receiver this season.

The first day of camp is the first chance to get a look at the new players, and I was most anxious to see incoming running back Brendan Bigelow. Granted, the team was just wearing helmets and not doing as much as they will later in camp, but considering the heralded recruit is coming off two ACL injuries to his right knee, it was extremely significant to see how he was moving.

Bigelow appears to be fine. He didn’t do a whole lot of running during practice, because the team didn’t. But when he moved, he looked fine. Jeff Tedford said Bigelow looked 100 percent. Bigelow himself said he’s felt 100 percent ever since he arrived on campus for Summer Bridge at the end of June. He even said he feels faster than he did before the first knee injury.

Junior running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson appears to have lost the weight he wanted since spring ball. It was probably about 10-15 pounds. Tedford said he weighs about 211. “He should be able to perform better given that his weight is down,” Tedford said.

The media was allowed to watch all of practice today, but unfortunately it wasn’t an ideal arrangement. We sat behind one of the end zones and the defense was on the other side of the field. Plus, oftentimes during drills players formed lines going across the field so much of the time we were trying to see what was going on in between players’ bodies. That being said, there were still times we could observe other drills and get a taste of what was going on.

The quarterbacks didn’t do much today. Tedford admitted they were rusty, expected for the first day. He said Zach Maynard “threw the ball with authority and did a nice job.” I watched Kyle Boehm make a few throws and he appeared to have a strong arm and fairly accurate. But these were simple pitch-and-catch drills with no defense, so really hard to make an evaluation.

New tight end Richard Rodgers looks to have a good combination of size and athleticism, and maybe too much size. Tedford said he’s a little overweight.

When asked if any of the new players stood out today, albeit during a simple helmets-only practice , Tedford singled out defensive end Brennan Scarlett. “Brennan Scarlett really stood out as being a guy who looks like he’s physically ready to play,” Tedford said.

Cal is back at it tomorrow afternoon with another helmets-only practice.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • David

    How about Tiny Moala?

  • SteveNTexas

    Does it seem like Cal has a bit more injuries than most teams? I thought this for years but only follow a few teams and not sure there is any ideal way to ascertain this- as injuries vary.

    Still it is my impression that we suffer more than most other teams- not necessarily in the Pac 12 though.

  • David

    We definitely don’t have more injuries than UCLA.

    JO, got any information as to what brand/model helmet everyone’s wearing? Especially with all this talk about helmet type vs concussions?

  • discdude

    TrollNTexas…back for another year? You say you are a Cal fan, but nothing is ever positive. In 30 seconds, I found this on the web about SC’s practice:

    “J.R. Tavai (hamstring) and Cody Temple (back) remained out of practice. CB Torin Harris left practice early with a possible concussion. Christian Tupou sat out much of practice as a precaution and was seen icing down his knee.”

    So, no…everyone has injuries. Duh, it’s football. Have a great season.

  • gobears49

    Cal certainly has a lot of running backs competing for the #2 slot, most with great credentials. I am also very interested in who will be the #2 quarterback. I hope Tedford gives Boehm a shot at it. He’s got a great arm and is also a runner, like Maynard.

    Cal now has three Elite 11 QB’s on its roster (Mansion, Bridgford, and Hinder), and next year will replace Mansion on its list of Elite 11’s with Kline (who recently placed #6 in the recent Elite 11 trials), so will still have three, probably the most for any team in the country. Tedford has a LOT of talent to work with at QB. Hopefully, with him now working directly with the QB’s, that position will again be a strong point for Cal. It really hasn’t been since Longshore got hurt, years ago. I have confidence that it will.

  • SFfan

    Great report – thanks JO. Really hoping that Bigelow is healthy and can stay that way throughout his career. Frank Gore blew out his knees in college and has had no recurring problems with the repaired ligaments during his career with the niners – so it’s not far fetched.

  • go8ears

    JO I believe it’s Brendon Bigelow, not Brendan.

  • milo

    Don’t mess with Texass…it might fart or crap on you.

  • runrunpasspunt

    Is the bubble screen looking up to standard yet?

  • StanfordJim

    Hey Dave, other reports have “Tiny” weighing in at a robust 358 pounds.
    Good God, is he a manchild???
    He will be an opposing force on the DLine once he works his way into the starting rotation.

  • David, Moala looks as advertised. He supposedly weighed in around 358 lbs but does not appear the least bit overweight. The guy is just thick and put together. It will be interesting to see how he progresses during camp.

  • GoBears, there was some confusion over the spelling of Bigelow’s first name after Signing Day. Cal’s media relations staff asked him directly how to spell his first name, and he said Brendan. That’s how his first name is spelled in Cal’s media guide and on its roster.

  • Raf

    Wow, JO u respond to posts!!? I did not know this. I will be much nicer from now on. lol 😉